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Post Election Selection Trauma

I'm with "Demosophist":

Obama is formidable, ruthless, smart, charming and probably unbeatable. I see a landslide brewing. If it happens, we will see a first 100 days comparable only to Reagan's, when the country made a 180 degree turn.

I just want to make clear that I don't think the US taxpayer should be liable for the massive psychotherapy costs should things not work out this way.

Hey, as that compassionate "conservative" George W. Bush once said, when someone is hurting, the government's gotta move!

More seriously, on the general theme of the post, I think that AL has far too much faith in Obama.

[Evening update]

For those who don't understand the reference of the post title, here it is, from three and a half years ago. I remember it well, because south Palm Beach County seemed to be one of the epicenters of the phenomenon.



Paul Milenkovic wrote:

To some degrees elections are about ideology, but to another degree, elections are kind of like high school. Senator Obama is the really "cool" kid everyone likes and Senator McCain is just a "Poindexter", who reminds everyone of their crabby dad, and the election is going by a landslide to Obama.

But the thing I don't get is the ideological shift, and Senator Obama is about at left-liberal as we have had in a very long time.

Ronald Reagan took us in a right-ward direction, but then again, while Ronald Reagan was the dream candidate for Movement Conservatives, the Reagan Revolution was not exactly the embodiment of how Movement Conservatism (i.e. W.F. Buckley's Traditionalist-Libertarian Fusionism).

The Reagan Revolution brought about 1) a complete sea change on taxes -- changing from a system with marginal rates that would do Huey Long proud and exchanging it for a system that was much flatter and less "progressive", but as part of the bargain got rid of "all those loopholes" 2) a 180-degree change from scrimping on the military to realize a "peace divident" and some form of diplomatic accomodation with the Soviet Union to a military buildup and a diplomatic approach but a more assertive one, 3) willingness to spend political capital busting inflation -- riding out what Paul Volker was doing, as much as putting the whole union movement into a broad retreat over the Air Traffic Controllers.

The Reagan revolution was not the complete embodiment of the Conservative Movement in that only lip service was given to cutting government spending, although the slowed growth of spending was castigated as cuts by opponents on the left. In its place was substituted "Supply Side Economics" -- the notion that if you unleashed the creative powers of productive people in the economy through low marginal taxes, you didn't have to worry that much about spending. The Bush Presidency took this Supply Side doctrine and ran with it to the dismay of many Movement Conservatives. The Reagan foreign policy was less muscular than one would think -- think Lebanon and the withdrawal and the arms-for-hostages, etc. The Movement Conservative vision of getting government out of the retirement and medical insurance business went by the wayside through compromises to boost payroll taxes to make Social Security and Medicare more solvent.

Since the Reagan sea change, what I have outlined has essentially provided the new boundaries on governence through Bush I, Clinton, and the Bush II Presidencies. What I am getting at is not only did Bill Clinton run as a kind of "New Democrat" in the style of Tony Blair and "New Labor", he governed that way too to the dismay of sum liberals. Remember the Clinton quote upon taking office of "You mean to tell me my legacy as President will depend on the actions of some (fine, fine) bond traders?"

If Obama represents another sea change, where is the big push coming for elements of the liberal agenda. Are people that enthusiastic about voting for raising taxes on themselves (the Walter Mondale effect), or is this a Huey Long program that I am not going to see any tax increases because my household AGI is well below the magic 250K?

Let me just pick on tax policy, if I may. The pre-Reagan social contract on taxes was that through a progressive income tax, the rich were supposed to pay proportionately more in taxes for a variety of reasons. At one time, marginal rates were as high as 90 percent but I believe they had been lowered to 70 percent.

What would happen is that no rich people were going to pay 90 percent let alone 70 percent for a variety of reasons, some selfish and some benefiting the economy as a whole by blunting the effect of those high rates. This system resulted in the tax shelter culture. Rich people could afford lobbyists to affect tax law and they could afford the services of accountants and lawyers to control what counted as "income."

Then what happens is that you have inflation and the sub-rich get "pushed" into these tax brackets that were once meant for the "truly rich." What this means is that a large cohort of opinion makers of elections are rich enough to pay high taxes but not rich enough to afford the phalynxes of lawyers and legions of tax accountants, and these opinion makers feel that they are paying more than the "truly rich", and the pendulum swung in the direction of Proposition 13 in California and the Reagan and later Packwood tax reforms.

Has all of this history been forgotten that people want to go down this road again? Or is the belief that a President Obama, wink and a nod, is only going to pay lip service to the liberal tax agenda and govern more like a Bill Clinton?

Thomas Jackson wrote:

I doubt that America is ready for someone as corrupt and racist as Obama. If one looks at the 2004 electoral map what states can Obama hope to take that Kerry didn't? What states that Kerry took are in play? Does anyone believe PA is solidly in the Obama column? How about Iowa?

Lets get past the fantasies the media and Obama is putting out about Georgia, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and the like. Obama is in a fix and the insanity quotient of his supporters only highlights how out of the mainstream he is. When a candidate starts issuing Stalinist posters and his own seal we are way over the line into the Twilight Zone.

In September and Ocotober the media and loons 5that constitute the Obama think tank will be out braying at the moon full force. But first watch them send Wright and Michelle out on long round the world cruises.

By the way North Korea endorsed Obama today. Think they know something about Obama that is fairly obvious?

Carl Pham wrote:

Paul, perhaps the answer is that the ideological shift is largely confined to arenas of symbolism. Although Obama's hard-core supporters would like to nationalize health care and pensions, and raise tax rates into the stratosphere to do it, I don't think much of the country is going to follow them there. Remember, at the margin Democrats are elected to Congress only by running as "Blue Dog" Democrats that might as well be Reagan Democrats, harsh on spending and government regulation.

So while they may propose some massive socialist reconstruction of the nation, it will probably fare just like Hillarycare or the recent cap 'n' trade bill: introduced with great fanfare, discovered to have unexpected bugs, tabled for "further study," and vanishing quietly.

What's left is what does not affect people every day. This stuff may matter, even very much, in the long run, but since it doesn't do much in the short run, people see it as symbolic. Charity, public works, speeches in the UN, foreign policy (alas), federal research money. These things will change a lot.

Why the shift? I suggest it's merely a generational thing. The two largest bulges in our demographics at present are the boomers and their adult offspring, who are in their mid to late 20s -- and these two are simply ganging up on the rest of us. Both those nearing retirement and twentysomethings tend to be idealistic and ambitious (the second to make a mark before beginning hum-drum career-building and family-making, the first to leave a final mark before shuffling off the mortal coil). In today's world that means voting for the Obamessiah.

A further argument could be made about the fracture of the family, in particular the fact that arguably most of the people now under 30 years old grew up a substantial part of their life without their father in the house. Hardly surprising that they should be more mommy-pleasing and effeminate than their forebears, and that the Mommy Party should fare better than the Dad Party.

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This page contains a single entry by Rand Simberg published on June 22, 2008 5:29 AM.

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